A Senate antitrust subcommittee plans to hold a hearing on the proposed combination of pharmacy benefits managers Express Scripts Inc. and Medco Health Solutions Inc. It would be the second committee to look into the $29.1 billion deal.
Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., plans to examine the deal at a meeting of the subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights in November. No date has been chosen for the meeting and a witness list has not been prepared. Kohl is the chairman of the committee, which is part of the Senate Judiciary Committee. A House of Representatives subcommittee held a hearing on the deal in September.
Express Scripts agreed to buy Medco in July. If regulators and shareholders approve the deal, Express Scripts will become the largest pharmacy benefits manager in the U.S. by far. The company said it would be able to negotiate better deals with drug manufacturers and save money for health plans and patients, but critics say the acquisition would reduce choice for consumers and health plans.
The Federal Trade Commission is reviewing the deal. Express Scripts and Medco have said they hope to complete the sale in the first half of 2012. Medco is headquartered in Franklin Lakes, N.J., and Express Scripts is based in St. Louis.
Shares of Express Scripts fell 18 cents to $40.55 in afternoon trading, and Medco stock dipped 13 cents to $48.80. Express Scripts' offer values Medco at $71.36 per share in cash and stock.